Munson will compete to start at third

Updated: January 17, 2005, 3:54 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-handed reliever J.C. Romero agreed to a $3.7 million, two-year contract with the Minnesota Twins and free-agent infielder Eric Munson agreed to minor league deal that would pay him $700,000 if he is added to the major league roster.

Romero, who was eligible for arbitration, gets $1.25 million this year and $2.2 million next year, according to Sunday's agreement. Minnesota has a $2.75 million option for 2007 with a $250,000 buyout, and the price of the option could increase to as much as $3.5 million, depending on how many games finished the pitcher has in 2006.

Romero, 28, went 7-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 74 appearances for Minnesota last season, but he struggled with his confidence and frustrated the coaching staff with his inconsistency -- enough to get him sent to Triple-A Rochester for two weeks in June.

Romero, though, is one of the Twins' best relievers, with a 9-2 record and 1.89 ERA in 81 appearances in 2002. In six seasons, all with the Twins, he is 21-17 with 22 saves and a 4.49 ERA.

Munson, who can earn an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses, became a free agent when the Detroit Tigers did not offer him a contract after last season. He hit .212 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI in 2004.

The deals were originally announced on WCCO Radio by manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson as part of the Twins Winter Caravan, an annual promotional bus tour for the team and its broadcast network.

The Twins are negotiating with three arbitration-eligible starting pitchers -- left-hander Johan Santana and right-handers Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse.

On Tuesday, unless contract agreements are reached before then, the team and the players will exchange their recommendations for 2005 salaries. Talks can continue up to the arbitration hearings, scheduled for the first three weeks in Februrary. If it gets that far without an agreement, an independent panel of arbitrators will determine the player's salary.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press